May 8, 2009

Lehigh Valley Half race review

This is not a full and detailed analysis of the race, just a recount of the race mile by mile and discussion of the pacing during each race segment. I do think I may have run it little differently if I was not hit by the GI issues, but overall I ran as good I could on the day. I do not have splits for every mile as I missed few mile markers along the way, but the available splits provide sufficient picture to understand how things unfolded. If you plan to run Lehigh Valley Half next year this may be helpful for your race planning.

MileAverage pace

From the splits it is apparent that I did not quite run negative split race. But even without negative split I ran pretty even race considering the course and conditions (mostly mine).

The course is downhill for the entire first mile. I was able to restrain myself from going too fast in that section. That is mainly because the 6:30 pace group leader also chose slower pace on the first few miles and I was staying with that group for first mile or two. Mile 2-3 are mostly flat or slightly downhill. In this section I was still adjusting my pace to settle into what seemed like a comfortable pace. Little faster than the planned 7:10 - 7:15 pace. At the end of the mile 3 I got the $#%*& gel. The slight rolling starts around the end of mile 3 and goes on for the next 2 miles. My pace slightly dropped in this section I guess due to the fact that I walked the aid station to get enough water. I picked-up the pace slightly on mile 6 and was within the range. From mile 7 the race moves from road to trail where you can expect slight drop in pace. But mine dropped more than planned due to the GI issues. The rough patch in this race for me was between the miles 9 and 10. That is where there are not many spectators with exception of the covered bridge and aid stations. It is nice area and I love to run there for training run, but in race it is probably the hardest part of the course to deal with. Mile 11 was the slowest due to two things - walked the aid station and it has two biggest climbs of the course. First one is right at mile 10 marker and the second is just about 500 meters further down the road. The course then turns back to road. On mile 12 there are two slight uphills after the aid station as the course turns back towards the starting line (you basically run the second mile here in the opposite direction). I was working quite hard on mile 12, but I guess the climbs took their toll. I did not take in any more water or nutrition at this point. When I hit the mile 12 marker I just unleashed all I had left and ran my heart out. I build up the pace towards the stadium - saving energy a little on climbs and then picking-up the pace on flats (no more downhills here). Once I had the climb to the stadium behind me I just ran as fast as I could manage. The average pace on that stretch is sub 6 minute mile, but it is only 3/4 of a track so it is just about 300 meters.

So there you have it blow by blow. Few days after the race I'm really happy with how I ran it. There are few things that I could have done better, but all in all it was a well executed race and surprisingly I did not suffer in it as much as in other half marathons. The tempo and progression long runs make all the difference. Thanks Craig for helping me come this far. It is 20 minutes improvement over my very first attempt at this distance only 2 years ago.

And if you want to look at the course altitude profile (filled area), pace (blue lines) and HR (red line) see the log below.


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